Fuel scarcity looms



There are indications that a fresh round of fuel scarcity may soon hit Nigeria even as labour and government work towards resolving the hikes in pump price and electricity tariffs

Both sides met overnight on Monday where issues threatening the regular supply of fuel across the country were ranked and discussed.

Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, who led the government’s delegation, said the fresh scarcity might arise from unresolved issues in the negotiations.

During the meeting, the Technical Committee on PMS presented its report while the Committee on Electricity Tariff said its work was ongoing.

Presenting the report, Chairman of the Technical Committee on PMS, Onochie Anyaoku, highlighted the areas where the government should work on to reduce the price of petrol.

Thereafter, the meeting then entered into a closed-door session to consider the report presented by Mr Anyaoku while the labour leaders requested 21 days to study the report.

After about three hours later, Mr Sylva and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Nigige, who was also at the meeting briefed reporters on the government’s decision on the report presented.

Sylva warned that another three weeks to study the report could have an effect on the availability of petroleum products in the market.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, as well as the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, also attended the meeting.

The labour leaders were led by President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, and President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye.

In November 2020, the government raised the depot price of petrol from N147.67 to N155.17 per litre, forcing marketers to sell between N165 and N173 naira per litre in various parts of the country.

Despite the announcement of N5 reduction by the government amid the controversy that trailed the increment, Nigerians have continued to bear the burden of the price hike.

The meeting to resolve the issues of increased petrol pump price and electricity tariff was adjourned in December 2020, with hopes that it would be reconvened on January 25, 2021.

At the opening of the discussion, Mr Mustapha assured the labour leaders that the government was ready to implement the overall agreement that would be reached at the end of the day to minimise industrial actions.

On their part, Mr Wabba and Mr Olaleye said the unions were committed to ensuring that the negotiations yielded the needed results